tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC January 13, 2014 5:00pm-6:01pm PST
if it's not christie, somebody, unfortunately for those who cover politics i doubt whoever fills the moderate gap out there will be as frisky or fascinating to watch as chris none of your business christie. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. a special edition of "all in with chris hayes" and maria shriver starts now. this is a special presentation of "all in." 50 year war. changing face of poverty in america. now chris hayes and maria shriver. >> good evening from new york. 50 years after the war on povrty was launched, america is once again engaged in a great and overdue national debate about the tens of millions of our fellow citizens left behind. but lurking at the edges of that conversation is the premise that the war launched 50 years ago was a failure. we're here tonight to tell you differently. >> this administration, today, here and now, declares
unconditional war on poverty in america. >> 50 years ago, president lyndon johnson embraced a simple but radical notion, that a wealthy nation enjoying a post-war economic boom had a duty not to leave behind millions of its own citizens. it was january 1964, less than 2 months since the assassination of president kennedy, and johnson was making the plight of 30 million impoverished americans his central priority. what he called the war on po poverty. >> it will not be a short or easy struggle. no single weapon or strategy will suffice. but we shall not rest until that war is won. >> johnson turned to peace corps founder sergeant triver to lead the fight. >> people are interested in being treated as human beings. they're interested in having other people treat them as the declaration of independence
says, as equals. that's the first thing that's needed in the war against poverty. >> shriver created and led the office of economic activity which oversaw a wealth of anti-poverty programs. including head-start which reached 3 million people if their first year, alone. he had plenty of detractors. >> the thing that i don't like about this whole johnson approach to poverty, no matter how high incomes -- average income becomes, there's always going to be somebody below it and somebody above it. this is, again, an attempt to divide americans. >> johnson would crush barry goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. the following year, he would sign into law medicare, medicaid and a major expansion of social security benefits. thanks to the efforts of johnson and shriver, as well as robert kennedy, news cameras began to document the life people would long lack electricity, indoor
plumbing. plight of the poor was thrust to the national spotlight. it would not last. johnson would eventually divert money and attention away from the war on poverty, the war in vietnam. >> our nation, tonight, is engaged in a brutal and better conflict. in vietnam. it just must be the center of our concern. >> gradually, the very premise behind the war on poverty, the notion that there's something wrong with the country that leaves behind millions of its citizens, started to seem impossibly alien. in the 1980s, johnson and shriver's historic effort had become an attack line for ronald reagan. >> some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty and poverty won. >> it's a line that conservatives are still using today as they seek further cuts to the social safety net. quick to note that the official povrty rate has only fallen four
percentage points over half a century. >> we have the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty coming up next year but don't have much to show senifor it. >> isn't it time to declare it a fail wrur? >> it's true there are over 10 million more people below the poverty line than there were 50 years ago, but that's because the war on poverty failed. it's because it didn't go far enough. in the decade of the war on poverty was launched, the poverty rate fell from 19% down to 11%. and without government programs like those put in place at the time, the poverty rate in america, today, would be approaching 30%. almost double what it is today. but over the last 50 years, americans became more familiar with false claims that poverty programs had failed and the very real struggles faced by the men and women who simply could not make ends meet. we decided to largely ignore the fact that there are 46.5 million people in poverty today, close
to one in six americans. instead of treating it as a national emergency. as a new report from maria shriver and the center for american progress lays out, more than one in three adult american women now live in or on the brink of poverty. this is the face of poverty today. the face of america today. the war that lyndon johnson and sergeant shriver started half a century ago is nowhere near over. joining me now is maria shriver, whose father, sergeant shriver, led the war on poverty for president lyndon johnson. what was your father's vision for this program? it was his signature accomplishment, i think next to the peace corps, and he threw everything he had into it. what hid de want to see happen? >> well, he threw his heart into it. he threw his mind into it. he threw his soul into it. he threw his spirit it. and thank you for correcting, because all week long i've been
hearing about why it was a big failu failure. he was an early social innovator and approached it, i think, as a catholic and someone who believed that we couldn't be a great nation if so many people in our nation were living in poverty. couldn't put food on the table. couldn't make ends meet. and so he came up with programs like head-start. he challenged the legal profession to come up with legal services for the poor. he came up with job corps and vista. and so much of what he believed was that americans who were doing well could help americans who weren't doing well and the government played a role but so did every profession. >> i think one of the things that's been loss is the office for economic opportunity, which he oversaw, was a very innovative, almost entrepreneurial place. they were trying different little pilot programs in different places. it was not this one-size-fits-all solution it's become the caricature of what it was. >> no, as i said, he was a social innovator. he brought people from journalism together with people
from business. from politics. from, you know, spiritual life. and he challenged them to think outside the box. that's how head-start was born. and that was a two-generational approach and we see some exciting things going on with two-generational approaches today. but he went and said to lawyers, look it, you're doing really well, let's go out and help people who can't afford a lawyer. so all of these things, job corps, he took from i think the peace corps that people wanted to serve and people wanted to help and that's what was in the american spirit. and he challenged americans from all walks of life to help people who weren't doing well. >> in 1967, martin luther king jr. goes to riverside church in manhattan and gives this very powerful condemnation of the vietnam war. there's a section of the speech in which he says, i thought we were going to have a war on poverty and watched the money move to vietnam in a society gone mad on war, i believe was his phrase. what did your father think of the shift of resources that happened in the 1960s toward
vietnam? >> he was frustrated as was everybody who worked on the war on poverty in the office of economic activity. he didn't give up. he kept championing, trying to push lyndon johnson. obviously in the end the war in vietnam won out. i think johnson, himself, was deeply disappointed. this was a person who grew up poor, who understood and who felt that he wanted that to be his signature piece and instead the other war took him out. >> there is something deeply tragic about that transition. joining us now, economist betty stevenson, member of the obama administration's council of economic advisers. you, like maria, i imagine have been hearing the rhetoric of the war on poverty having failed. you did a report for the white house about the war on poverty. what's your response? >> that's exactly the question we wanted to look at is see how government programs affect poverty? what we needed was a measure of poverty that included the value of government programs, of taxes and benefits, transfers and benefits. and we needed then to look the
at what would happen if we took those -- the value of those programs out. and what we saw is, perhaps, a little bit surprising. we found that -- we haven't made much progress, if you ignore all the government programs. so if you just leave it to wages and earned income, there hasn't been a ton of progress made in the last 50 years. i think what we saw is that education has definitely helped lift people out of poverty, but that's been fighting a headwind of rising inequality and eroding value of the minimum wage. now, once we added in the government programs, things like eitc, s.n.a.p., and we found that we'd actually done a lot to reduce poverty, so poverty over the last 50 years had fallen by nearly 40%. >> betsey, i think the big question, today, is that people are saying this is not the job of big government. you know, government shouldn't play a role. what do you think the president, because he's talking a lot about income inequality and economic
mobility. what can he do today that would bring government to the right place, that would enlist business and individuals, themselves? >> well, that's obviously an important part of the things that we want to do to fight poverty. you know, the first stop on that is to raise the min puimum wagef you're working full time, full year, you can lift your family out of poverty. that's why the president endorsed raising the min puimum wage. he's also endorsed pushing people to get more education, get nr skills and asking businesses to do more to make sure there are wrungs on the ladder for employees to climb, get the skills at work, learning more, getting the promotions, building their skill set and moving up. because opportunity is at the heart of what we're trying to promote. >> betsey stevenson of the white house council on economic advise advisers. thank you for your time. >> pie pleasure. ahead on the 50 year war, we'll talk an the americans
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meetings start at 11, cindy. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one. choose 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day. what's in your wallet? i need your timesheets, larry! welcome back to the "50 year war." i'm joined tonight by maria shriver. >> the story of poverty in america today is not just the story of the nearly 50 million people living below the federal poverty line. it's also about the americans living on the brink. just one broken down car, one serious illness, one family
emergency away from poverty. take a look at the new generation of americans who are barely holding on. >> my 6 year, sometime she tells me she's hungry and i have nothing to give her. it's hard, you know, when you don't have enough mine to buy food for your kids. >> in the 50 years since president lyndon johnson decl e declared a war on poverty in this country, the portrait of america's poor has been transformed. if you want to know what poverty in america looks like today, take a look at this. >> i'm not able to cover my expenses totally. as far as food expenses, i have to eat the same things every day to make sure that i'm in my range. >> the face of poverty in america today is overwhelmingly the face of a woman and the children who depend on her. more than 100 million americans are living on or over the brink of poverty, and nearly 70% of them are women and children. that's one in three women living
at or near the poverty level. as the structure of the american family has evolved over the years to depend on women working outside the home, women have remained more likely to be their family's primary caregiver. >> i recently got a promotion to $8. i have three kids and a husband, but with rent, with feeding kids, you know, somebody got to go hungry, and sometimes it's the parents. >> in the modern american workforce, women are heavily concentrated in the lowest-wage professions, while women represent about half the overall workforce, they make up almost 2/3 of minimum wage workers. >> i, myself, make $120 a week. i don't have enough to even survive for the basic necessities in my household. >> breaking out of the low-wage workforce can be especially difficult for women with children. >> i used to have to choose between going to school and working. you know, at the end of the day, it's i got to get my education or feed my kids. >> even college-educated women face a persistent wage fwgap. >> over the course of her career, a working woman with a
college degree will earn on average hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a man who does the same work. >> in every discipline, women are graduating college and entering the labor force making less than men with the same bachelor's degree. the last major overhaul of the social safety net, the welfare reform movement of the 1990s was built to help americans fight their way out of poverty. >> today we're taking an historic chance to make welfare what it was meant to be, a second chance, not a way of life. >> at that time, i profiled a woman trying to do just that. >> i was in college and i had two kids to take care of. i didn't have any money left. >> nancy firmly believes she made the right decision to go on welfare and stay in skl school. she graduated with top honors from the university of wisconsin. she hopes her new diploma will be her ticket back to a middle class life. >> if that doesn't work, i'm in trouble. i'm in trouble.
>> today, 15 years later, nancy penn, along with 42 million women in america are living on the brink. and joining us now is nancy penn, the woman you just saw in the piece who i interviewed 15 years ago as she was trying to fight her way out of poverty. she went back to school and she is here today. you did kind of everything right and now you've been out of work two years. what happened? what did you learn? >> well, i -- my education paid off. i was -- i was middle class. i was paying my bills, paying my taxes. and lives the american dream. but a couple years ago i lost my job and unemployment ran out and i'm spending my 401(k) money. >> why can't you get a job? do you think it's because of your age? or what do you think it is? >> i think it has something to do with my age, but i also think that employers are in a place where they can pick and choose
who they want. they can pick people who have every single thing on their wish list as for an employee. >> do you think it's because you're a woman? do they look at you that you have children? do they look at you -- do you think and say, why? >> sure. sure. i think and say why. i think partly it's my age that, you know, they look at me with my 25 years of experience and think they're going to have to pay me premium dollars. >> right. >> and -- >> let me ask you this. you're someone who has -- who lived the success story that was welfare reform. >>. >> yes. >> the success of welfare reform is one of the things you hear. having lived through that, what to you say to people who say it was a success? >> i say that that before welfare reform came into play, i could go to school, i'd pay for
my own education, but they'd give me some money to live on. and i ended up making, you know, upper middle class wages. so it worked. and the more people we have making good money, the better our economy is going to be. >> for a little more context, joining us, director of the domestic national workers alliance, co-director of caring across generations campaign. she has an essay in the shriver report. you write about the way labor force has changed since particularly the welfare reform act was signed into law, in which there's an explosion in employment in what are known as the caring sectors. caring for children, caring for aging family members. and that that work is dominated by women and also very low-wage work right now. >> that's right. with more and more women in the paid workforce, more than half the paid workforce is women now. and with this incredible age wave that we're experiencing in this country, where 10,000 people were day, 4 million people per year turn 65 and
because of advances in health care, people are living longer than ever. we have this huge and growing need for care on both sides of the generational spectrum. so it's actually a huge opportunity to create jobs except for the fact the jobs are poverty wage jobs and really the jobs of the future. i mean, home care is the fastest growing workforce in the country right now because of this huge need. if we could figure out how to turn these jobs into good jobs that you could take pride in and support your family on, it could be game changing. >> how do we raise the wage that these women, primarily women, get for taking care of our parents, our children, supporting the women who go out to work? >> well, we raise the minimum wage and we should really be thinking about things like paid leave. right? the family act. paid sick days. all kinds of measures that really support both work and family. a better quality of life and more opportunity.
>> do you see the political will there? do you see the will amongst the people you work with and the people who employ the people you work with? >> i think more and more people are recognizing that the experiences of working women are increasingly defining of the entire economy and society. if we think about the fact that more than half of college graduates are women, more than half of the electorate are women, right, and women live longer than men, we're a huge consumer force, i mean, really we're not a special interest group. we're really defining of the whole. >> i think people hear nancy's story and say, that could happen to me. i'm middle class, upper middle class, doing really well. all of a sudden i'm living off my 401(k). >> what do you say to an economy to doesn't have a place for you? someone who can work and has skills? >> i don't know what i can say to the economy. i can tell you i'm not unique. of the 13 people i know that are
unemployed, women that are unemployed, ten of those people are educated professionals with lots of experience. >> and you're living off your savings right now. >> i'm living off my savings. i -- i hope that something opens up for me. my fear is that i'll spend down my 401(k) keeping my -- staying alive and end up homeless. >> i think one of the things this gets to, ai-jen, is there are these two sides, when we talk about poverty, when betsey stevenson was talking about it. what the labor market is doing and what the safety net is doing. what i'm hearing from you and hearing what you, there's stuff the safety net could do. the ideal situation is a strong labor market that pays people living wage, has full employment for people like nancy that could contribute before we get to safety net, right? >> absolutely. we need both and. it's a both/and both. >> nancy penn, ai-jen poo, thank you both. how a texas state senator of
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i've tried to keep it present. just in terms of the work that i do making sure that my perspective is never too far removed from this. the hardest thing in the world is to be giving something your all and it's not good enough. and that's what i was experiencing when i was living here. i was giving it my all. working two jobs. and doing the best i could. but this was the place that i came home to with the phone not working from time to time, or the lights not working from time to time. >> maria spent time with texas state senator and gubernatorial candidate wendy davis for a piece that's set to air on wednesday morning the "today" show. davis has an incredible personal story that took her from teen motherhood in the mobile home park you just saw to harvard law school. texas senate and, perhaps, beyond. for women facing poverty, wendy davis' story is the exception, not the rule. joining us now, shaneta simon, shift supervisor at kfc.
melissa ortiz. and marianna sutton of drexel university. it's great to have you back at this table. >> hi, nice to see you again. hi, marie wra. >> i think a lot of us feel, when we look at the story of wendy danks story vis, story of people who have this classic story, toiling for low wages and end up bettering themselves and have a big success. when you look at your life, what are the obstacles from here to there for you? >> the ok stan stack lg for me, don't want to be on food stamps or welfare. that is not my goal or hopes and dreams. that's not what i want to teach my kids. i want to teach my kids, nobody, at the end of the day, nobody's going to give you nothing for free. you have to get up and work for it. i am getting up and working for it. what do i get in return? the bare minimum. so my obstacles in front of me is, you know, simple things like feeding my kids. since i last saw you, i got
approved for that. thank god for that. what do i do from there? what help is provided? what programs are out there? there needs to be some kind of website or some kind of person on the street with a picket sign saying we're here to help you. you know? when are we going to get that? so definitely my obstacles in front of me is just a struggle. con stapt struggle. >> there are misconceptions of women working on the brink. these are women you were just saying, they don't want to be there. they have dreams. they want to work. they are working. if you had a moment to talk to the president, if you had a moment to talk to senate leaders and congressional leaders, what would you tell them that they could do now that would make a difference in your life? >> wow, more than anything, i think they should absolutely restore the budget, full budget for affordable housing, subsidized housing. i thing it's re i think it's really, really critical. across the united states, you don't understand how the families are struggling.
the one thing you need above all else is a place to stay. that's your source, what grounds you. and allows you to go look for work. puts your kids to school. decides where you're going to vote. things like that. all those things are so critical. so the most important thing for any family, especially struggling families, right, is a place to live. >> yes. >> and obviously a job and a living wage. so many people have this idea that government programs aren't helping people on the brink. and they just don't need them. >> well, that couldn't be further from the truth. i'll tell you about the food stamp program for s.n.a.p. food stamp program we know through our research with children's health watch, a multisite study that looks at 60,000 families across country, we know food stamps prevents hospitalizations for young children. we also know the wic program, the women, infants and children program is a nutrition program for pregnant moms and very young children. we know that that promotes child
development. so we have really beautiful programs helping to buffer families through hard times and know actually reduces health care costs and promote health. >> when people say there's been an explosion in food stamp usage since the financial crisis in 2008 and this is some sign of something broken or a lot of americans suddenly decide to get super lazy, what do you say? how do you explain the fact we now have so many more people on this program? >> the increase in food stamp participation is actually an example of our public assistance programs actually working. when the economy goes down and people lose their jobs, they're more eligible for food stamps. the food stamp program has been extremely responsive, thankfully during the economic downturn and as now more jobs are coming into the mainstream, food stamp participation will go down. >> there is a lot that government could do to modernize. you're saying there smhould be some help to modernize the programs that do pivot. people spend so much time trying to find housing, sign up for programs, trying to go over here and get another program for your
child. what do you think would make a big difference? she said it's housing. what, for you, would make a difference tomorrow to help you get going? >> i think it's not only housing. for example, there are so many programs like preventative programs, you know, programs out there that say, okay, i see you trugen with your children, struggling to feed your children, clothe your children. shelter over your children's heads. right now i'm living with my mom because i can't afford to live on my own. i'm married with three children. you know, raising my own family under my mom household. simple things like that. you know, programs that would say, you know, i'm here to thep you with, clothes, foods. simple things, necessity. >> there's been this conversation about marriage, marriage, poverty and the relationship between them. i met your husband and kids last time you were in here. there's this idea like, you know, single women out there, if you just got married, that's the way out of poverty.
what do you want to say about that? >> getting married, me and my husband joke about it all the time. getting married was such an economical downturn. it's like, simply filing taxes is more expensive. you know, eating, clothing, shelter, it's more expensive because that's just another body. you know? that's another add-on. you know? getting involved with this movement has really changed my life because it gave me the courage to actually file again, because the first time they actually closed my face and say, okay, you get paid too much money. you know, the movement actually said, no, you know, you deserve better. >> you're talking about the workers you've been working with in a fight for higher wage. >> know that the polling in the "shriver report" said the government should support families the way day are now. there's a difference often, you know, i think to shame women who are not in marriages and who have left them because they were abusive or they didn't work isn't really the answer. >> why do you think that affordable housing doesn't -- why does it get left behind?
we've seen a succession of cuts to them through the years. >> you know, i understand where the government is coming from. there's fraud, there's this, there's that. there's a huge base of residents that live there. you know, in my community, alone, we have only 400 units of housing left in sunset park in brooklyn. >> in all of the neighborhood. >> for all of the neighborhood. not for a long ways -- again, not for another ways again. and so it's very important in our community where people are living there and have been there for a long time that they continue to stay. >> i think it highlights the fact right now we have a mismatch in the way the economy works in terms of where jobs are created and affordable homes are made and sometimes engines of job creation lead to places that are expensive. you have people paying 40%, 50% of their inole for rent. she shenita simon trou swrn saint, melissa, and mariana. people who are in a position to push through concrete
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the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education, or health care, or a community that views her future as their own? that should offend all of us. and it should compel us to action. we are a better country than this. >> right now, in america, with are in the midst of a rare political moment. politicians and the media are actually paying attention to poverty. >> the debate over how to help families in poverty continues in washington. >> so why are so many poor americans trapped at the bottom? >> the rich are getting a lot richer. >> we should have done better than this. we can do better than this. >> that is one in five of our kids in this country live in poverty. >> 49.7 million americans still live below the poverty line. >> "shriver report" shows there's widespread support for a
whole variety of initiatives that would make life better for people on the bottom of the economic ladder. especially women. 73% favor increased minimum wage. 77% favor aid for low income single mothers who go to college. 90% favor ensuring that women get equal pay for equal work. politicians are talking about poverty, the media is covering it, and people support an array of policies that would help. big question now is, what happens next? when we come back, we're going to talk about what the future holds for the war on poverty and who and what is standing in the way of progress. ♪
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take the energy quiz. energy lives here. we're back. i'm chris hayes here with maria shriver. government cannot wave a magic wand and make poverty disappear tomorrow, but there is a whole lot our government could to improve the lives of tens of millions of people. especially women toiling in poverty. here to talk about a proactive agenda to do just that is new york state senator kirsten gillibrand. new york -- senator gillibrand, you have a kind of platform that you're pushing to deal precisely with this issue. what is it? >> a number of things. first, we have to create workplace rules that actually reflect who's in the workplace. almost half our workers today are women. women are earning more than half the college degrees, more than half the advanced degrees in this country. so if we're ever going to reach the full potential of this
country, we really have to tap into the full potential of women. so something as simple as paid family medical leave. more often than not when there's a new baby in the family, infant, an ill parent or dying family member, it's the women who have to side track off their careers to take care of the loved ones. we have to have paid family medical leave. equal pay for equal work. raise the minimum wage. 2/3 of minimum wage earners are women. universal pre-k. make sure women can stay in the workplace longer, can actually reach their full earning potential. put more money back into the economy. and help themy grow. >> senator, of all those things that you just outlined, all are needed. in our poll, respondents said the thing that would make the most difference to them was getting paid leave. where do you see the most movement of all those things you just talked about? >> well, i think paid leave is something that really resonates with all americans.
because most of our families, today, are dual-income families. if you had a block of ten families today, five out of ten would have two parents working. three out of ten would be single moms. and only two would be a mom staying home and a dad going to work. so most american families know that they need flexibility. they need that flexibility to care for their families. to be able to be at home with an ill or dying parent top . two to be at home when they have a blessing of a new baby. if the women in their lives aren't earning the full potential, it's going to be less money for share kids and in the economy. >> you're right. americans say they know, but they say washington doesn't know and can't get the law passed. so tell them why you know and how you're going to fix it? >> well, when the first time we had family medical leave, it was a bipartisan solution. and today we just want to make sure it's paid leave. because first of all, not that many workers are even eligible for family medical leave.
and also, most people can't afford to take it. if you say you're not going to be paid during that time off, most people have to pay their mortgage, have to pay their rent, they have a car payment. they can't be unpaid. so i think we can draw more members of congress, democrats and republicans, around this shared common value that we want our families to be happy and healthy and well looked after. but we also want to make sure themy is growing. it's better for businesses, too, to have paid family medical leave. you invested in the employee. if a woman needs time off and can't be accommodated because it's not paid, she may have to quit her job and that means you have to hire and train someone new. it's a wasted opportunity for that company not to retain that original employee. >> senator, before there's even a space politically for a proactive agenda like the one you've outlined, seems to me a lot of people in washington are forced to fight the actions against a lot of whittling stuff we have and know that works. there's $40 billion in food
stamp cuts slated on the house side. there's unemployment extension that we have not seen. we've seen medicaid expansion being blocked in the states. i mean, how do you think about the kind of first do-no-arm job of legislators in washington on that score? >> we have to keep making our case. i've never met a new yorker who wants to be on food stamps. the people on food stamps are providing for their kids because the kids are going to bed hungry. seniors on fixed income who don't have enough food at the end of the month. it's for veterans, even active duty personnel. i don't know why we'd be tightening our belts around the waists of our children. we conditi equally employment, unemployment insurance, that's a safety net for families who desperately need it. nobody wants to be on unemployment. they want to be working. and so, again, i think, unfortunately, congress gets these things wrong, and they have to start going home to their districts and states and
talking to real people. >> senator kirsten gillibrand of new york. thank you so much. >> thank you. joining us now, congresswoman barbara lee, democrat from california. co-founder and co-chair of the congressional out of poverty caucus. and neera tanden. do you think that the conversation, the policy conversation in washington is too backwards focused in terms of fighting off these cuts and too narrow in terms of how we're thinking about solutions? >> well, chris, we have to play offense and defense. last year, we celebrated 50 years of the war on poverty. we had linda robb and came and talked about how head-start, job corps, food stamps, medicaid, how all these great initiatives during her father and mother's time were still appropriate today. day were fwarp. thank you, maria, for continuing
with the legacy of your mother and father. your father was the architect of these great society programs. we're trying to preserve this right now against these budget cuts and against this very backwards thinking with regard to issues of income inequality and poverty reduction. >> barbara, neera, how do you think we bring, you know, bring this down the line so to speak? get some movement on this? we have a moment here. there's a lot going on. a lot of discussion. seems to be some -- how do we take it across the goal line, as they say? >> i think what's very interesting about this moment is actually how you're seeing a bipartisan interest in the conversation. obviously there are different views about solutions, but the fact that rising inequality is becoming something that even republicans are talking about i think is really a demonstration of what we've seen in the "shriver report" and the poll, itself, which is there's bipartisan support for issues like paid leave, childcare, because people recognize we're in a new economy. that people are working harder and their wages are down, and
they need more family support. that's why i think some of the arguments in the past about how we couldn't afford to do these things are actually being overcome, not by democrats but republicans, too, recognize that we actually are going to grow better when we invest in our families. and i think that's actually an important moment that we should recognize. >> we're going to talk about so other solutions. one innovative. one in particular in boston that's being tried. stay with us. we'll be back. ♪ whoa, who-o-o-a ♪ whoa, who-o-o-a
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joining us to talk about that is to join us cathie minnahan, boston women's force force council, leading to make boston the first city in the country to close the wage gap between men and women. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, maria. congratulations on your report. >> thank you so much. what you're doing is really innovative. for most people who don't know about it, tell us what the boston compact is? what can other cities to do emulate it? >> as you indicated, the boston compact is a private/public partnership aimed at making the boston metropolitan area the best area in the united states for working women by close fg the wage gap. >> how are you going to do that? >> it's a simple process. the compact, itself, is a single sheet of paper. on the front is the mission to make boston the best place in the u.s. for working women. a set of core beliefs, i.e., it makes sense to care about your women employees and treat them well because they are a
predominant share of the workforce. highly educated people in boston. young women highly educated in boston. the reverse of the compact is an agreement to do three things. the first thing is, recognize if you have a problem. the second thing is, use a bunch of research that we've developed. we spent two, three months, a lot of time and effort pulling together all the research on what are the things businesses can do if they see they have an issue of a wage gap nature or of a workforce nature? a whole bunch of different -- 33 different what we call interventions. and then the third agreement is that you will report every couple of years, anonymously, the data about your workforce. we're trying not to make this a new data reporting requirement. we believe we can build on what companies are are already collecting and reporting. we're going to do a baseline
report in 2014, and in 2016, we're going to do a report that's going to show we've made progress on the wage gap. >> what's interesting about this is, and this connects to the family -- to paid family leave, higher minimum wage which is that local governments, municipalities have been piloting a lot of different solutions. there's higher minimum wages in a bunch of different cities. something like the boston compact. there's paid leave in california which is one of two states. there are ways in which you can try things out at the local level and get metrics for success that are very difficult to do. currently in washington. particularly. >> and we see this as a major moment in time because businesses have recognized that they're investing in women and the women are not progressing in the way they want them to. so they see this as a win for them to retain their best assets. it's a win for women and it's a win for boston. >> in the house, we have our initiative when women succeed, america succeeds. >> exactly. >> has to do with pay equity,
paid family leave, also access to universal quality childcare. >> yes. >> we have to do this. i think we can do it both democrats and republicans. >> barbara, you're from california. paid leave has been a success there. >> there's been a huge success. for men and women. and it helps people move forward in terms of not only taking care of teheir families, bueing off when children are born, to care for their elderly parents. economically, people don't lose wages and the economy continues to benefit as a result. >> i think a really critical point here and one of the distinctions is people in boston, companies in boston, recognizing that their women workers are a real asset and want to invest in them in the long term. one of the things you see even in the private sector, where companies are adopting paid leave or providing assistance with health care and other things. seeing your workers as a long-term asset to the company and not a cost. >> yep. >> i think that's the big distinction we have to make over the long term which is these are people you need to invest in
because they're your human capital needs for the future, and they're actually helping you. instead of always seeing these things as some kind of tradeoffs on the bottom line. i think as we do that, you'll see greater action by the private sector, but hopefully we'll see greater action by the sector to support paid leave as a legislative item, childcare as a legislative item to level the playing field for all workers. >> let me say one of the things that hangs over this entire conversation in this context, of course, is what nancy was talking about which is the fact we have a very slack labor market. >> absolutely. >> very long unemployment for a very long period of time and the relative power between people seeking jobs and people doing the hiring is out of skew in that environment. there's a surplus of labor. >> the best labor force participants we have are women. they're more highly educated, better trained. those are the people business should be going after. >> sure, and also women constitute the majority of low-wage workers. when you look at women of color, they're the majority of low-wage
workers. so we have to factor in a whole racial equity piece when we talk about gender equity and -- >> "shriver report." >> go download the "shriver" report. congresswoman barbara lee, ne a neeratanden. more information, download the "shriver report" for free at shriverreport.org. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, happy monday. thanks to you at home for joining us. the largest city in the state of new jersey is newark, new jersey. until recently, of course, the mayor of newark, new jersey, was a man you might have heard of. cory booker. cory booker now is no longer the mayor of newark because he's a united states senator now. one of the highest profile democrats in the country. there are not that many people who have jumped from mayor to u.s. senator, but cory booker did that. and the city he jumpe